Woman of the Day – Aretha Franklin

Green Party Women Celebrating Women’s History Month
Day 27: Woman of the Day - Aretha Franklin

In March 1942, multiple Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee. She would go on to become a major figure in the music industry. As the “Queen of Soul” her voice resonates throughout time, touching the very soul of humanity with unparalleled power and emotion. Though she may no longer grace the stage with her presence, her spirit lives on in every note, reminding us to always find our voice and sing our truth.

Early years

Aretha was the daughter of a prominent Baptist minister father and a talented piano player and vocalist mother. Aretha’s childhood was marked by exposure to gospel music and the Civil Rights Movement, as her father was closely associated with both.

At a young age, Aretha’s prodigious talent as a singer became evident. She began singing gospel in her father’s church choir and soon gained attention for her powerful voice and ability to convey deep emotion through her music. By her mid-teens, she had already released her first gospel album, Songs of Faith in 1956.

Rise to fame

In 1960, Aretha moved away from gospel to secular music and signed with Columbia Records. However, it wasn’t until she moved to Atlantic Records in 1966 that she found widespread commercial success. Under the guidance of producer Jerry Wexler, Franklin’s career soared to new heights. Her unique blend of gospel-infused vocals with elements of rhythm and blues, soul, and pop made her a sensation.

In 1968 she was enlisted to perform at the funeral of Civil Rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who was a close friend of her father. Aretha paid tribute to King with a heartfelt rendition of Precious Lord.

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, Aretha released a string of hit singles and albums. These earnt her the title “The Queen of Soul.” Her iconic songs such as Respect, Think, Chain of Fools and Natural Woman became anthems for both the feminist and civil rights movements, earning her a reputation as one of the most influential voices in American music.

Aretha’s cover of Respect became a feminist anthem for the second wave feminism movement in the 1970s. You can watch Aretha performing the track here:


Aside from her incredible vocal talent, Aretha was also a skilled pianist and songwriter. Her ability to infuse her music with raw emotion and passion resonated with audiences worldwide, earning her numerous accolades and awards throughout her career.

In 1987, she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2008 she won her 18th Grammy Award, making her one of the most honoured artists in Grammy history.


On August 16 2018, Aretha passed away in her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends. Her impact extends beyond the realm of music into the broader cultural consciousness. Her songs have been featured in numerous films, television shows and commercials, ensuring their longevity and relevance across generations.

She also broke down barriers and paved the way for other women in the music industry, demonstrating that women could excel as both performers and leaders in the male-dominated world of music.

“I sing to the realists, people who accept it like it is. I express problems. There are tears when it’s sad and smiles when it’s happy. It seems simple to me, but for some people, I guess feelin’ takes courage.”

Image credit

Author: Atlantic Records. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.




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